How I did not let my mind pause to think about Spain until the night before departure
Friday, August 26, 2011 began just like any other day. I woke up to over a hundred new emails, most focused upon Project Green Challenge, the upcoming nationwide initiative of my non-profit, Teens Turning Green (TTG), on which I had worked all summer. Some centered on The Schoolbag, an initiative I am leading in Haiti this September, to bring sets of school supplies to over 11,210 students with my team of international volunteers. Others still dealt with One Young World (OYW), the youth summit at which I represented the United States in Zurich Aug 31 – Sept 5. There was a great deal on my plate, but this work feeds my soul. I sat in my den, responding to every last email in my inbox, while simultaneously updating my blog and twitter feed, adding to The Schoolbag Facebook page and TTG website, and completing a few final edits to my OYW speech.
I felt that I had finished, that my work was complete. I closed my laptop screen, turned off the Food Network (my background noise), and headed downstairs. Only now, less than twenty hours before my plane took off for Madrid, did I finally let my mind settle upon Spain. I was making a cross-continental move, but somehow, this fact did not phase me.
Last year, I spent the fall living in Ghana, an entirely foreign land to me. With no idea what to expect, I packed suitcase after suitcase with clothing (for every season), kitchen supplies, sheets and towels, and gluten-free and vegan bulk and dry food staples, even DVDS, books, and magazines. I made numerous lists, to ensure I would not forget anything and began my preparations weeks in advance.
Before departing for Tel Aviv last spring, a place in which I had spent but a couple of short weeks traveling last summer, I made copious notes to ensure I did not forget anything I may possibly need. The sheets, towels, endless amounts of clothing, and food staples came along with me once again, albeit slightly less.
While excited for Spain, I was entirely at ease. I packed two suitcases in a matter of a couple of hours, a typically laborious and drawn out process (check out the picture of the floor of my room above! That is my mid-packing state of mind). Having lived in Spain for a summer in high school and having traveled there on four other occasions over the past couple of years, I knew what to expect, moreover, I knew how I fit into the culture – and that I could find anything and everything I needed at ease.
I tossed shoes and various articles of clothing into my bags, accompanied by only a few Nature’s Path granola bars (my daily staple, regardless of where I am in the world), and I was set! I carried my relatively small and contained baggage upstairs to the front door, just as my mom was coming home. She was shocked to find me so calm, entirely prepared, and ready to go out to the market for ingredients to make dinner.
Spain is a wonderful place for me, a familiar yet majestic land in which I feel at home upon arrival, each and every time I visit.